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The DVD Shelf--The Departed (2006)

By Psycho Dave in Culture
Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: movies, awards, I watch too much tv (all tags)

When it comes to getting Oscars, Martin Scorsese is one of the unluckiest men in Hollywood. As we approach the 79th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday, the big question is "will his luck change?" This year, he is heavily favored to take home the Best Director Oscar, but an upset isn't out of the question. Martin Scorsese has been down this road before and always lost. The real question is, does it matter?

Of course it doesn't. If Crash winning Best Picture last year hasn't dispelled the myth that the Academy Awards have anything to do cinematic merit, then you're likely the type of person who thought Pearl Harbor should have won Best Picture. Even if Scorsese loses once again, that only means he's in the same boat as Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, John Cassavetes, Orson Welles etc. Also, I don't know anyone who still adores Ordinary People, but Raging Bull gets a spin in the old DVD player at least once a year. And the Goodfellas disc (despite being one of those early crappy "flipper" discs that splits the movie onto both sides of the DVD) gets watched even more than that. Kevin Costner? Didn't he direct The Postman?

Of the three films Scorsese has been nominated for in the 00's, Gangs of New York and The Aviator were both huge period epics that academy voters typically favor. Unfortunately both were too uneven to really love. The Departed, on the other hand, is a nasty, violent, modern-day crime thriller that is a remake to boot, yet the odds makers have deemed it his best chance for the Oscar. Many have speculated that it's because The Departed is a "return to form" for Scorsese, who has been pigeonholed (somewhat erroneously considering the entire scope of his work) as a master of the gangster movie, though the cynic in me wonders if the fact that the film turned in his best box office receipts since Cape Fear had something to do with it.

Whether an Oscar is in its cards or not, The Departed is certainly solid work. Based on the 2002 Chinese flick Infernal Affairs (which, despite my enthusiasm for Hong Kong cinema, I have yet to see) The Departed follows two Boston city cops as they graduate from the police academy. One of them, Colin Sullivan (played by Boston native Matt Damon) quickly rises through the ranks to an elite detective squad, despite being a mole for a Southie crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). The other cop, Bill Carstigan (played by Leonardo Dicaprio, who has taken Robert Deniro's role as Scorsese's go-to guy for a leading man) is sent undercover to infiltrate Costello's crime family. The story involves drug deals and stolen microprocessors being sold to the Chinese government, the mechanics of which are mostly there to provide a way for Damon and Dicaprio to play cat-and-mouse as they try to discover the identity of the "rat" in each other's organization.

The Departed shares many superficial similarities to Gangs of New York. Besides both starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Gangs of New York and The Departed have Scorsese leaving the world of mafia wiseguys to explore the Irish underworld. Dicaprio performance is more assured in The Departed than it was in Gangs, but that might just have to do with being more comfortable with a Southie accent as opposed to a 19th century Irish immigrant one. Despite being unable to grow convincing facial hair, Dicaprio is compelling as a man straddling the line between cop and criminal, constantly in fear of being caught in the web of lies he's strung for himself. After years of being the face that spawned a million Tiger Beat photo spreads, it's kinda gratifying to watch Dicaprio bash the teeth out of a bookie's face with the butt of a pistol.

In both The Departed and Gangs of New York, Dicaprio gains the trust of a sociopathic crime boss-slash-father figure with the goal of ultimately betraying him. It is in this aspect where Gangs actually has an edge. Daniel Day Lewis's William Cutting was a perfect mixture of slow-tongued charisma married to an unpredictable violent temper. Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello is, well, Jack Nicholson, which means he's there to chew scenery. That's not to say it's not enjoyable to watch him shoot people in the head, throw cocaine on hookers and ask underage girls woefully inappropriate things, but Frank Costello never becomes more than a one-dimensional villian (which is a problem with the script more than it is with the actor).

As the detective working both sides of the law, Matt Damon's Sullivan is the more interesting of the two villians, but his character poses many problems to the story. Wanting simultaneously to be a rising star within the department while helping his Costello be one step ahead of the cops, Sullivan's conflict is compelling, though barely sketched. It seems that Sullivan is willing to risk his career and reputation all because Costello bought him groceries once when he was a kid. And while The Departed is a movie about deception, Damon plays his character's conflict a little too internally, making him almost a cipher for the first half of the movie. Thankfully, by the time the third act rolls around, he's finally able to break loose.

The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. Martin Sheen as the elderly Captian Queenan embodies the paternal weight that's missing from his villianous counterpart Costello. But the flashier roles go to his shit-talking partner Lieutenant Dingham (played by Mark Wahlberg, another Boston native) and the always amusing Alec Baldwin. Costello's enforcer Mr. French (played by Ray Winstone) is good for some gravelly voiced tough guy-isms (his "Fuck it," at the end is one of the more hardcore moments I've seen in awhile). Vera Farmiga does her best as Madolyn (the psychiatrist that dates Sullivan and fucks Carstigan) even though the love story is pretty badly presented. Her role should have remained split into two characters as it was in Infernal Affairs. As it stands, using her as the connection between the two leads comes off as clunky and contrived.

Filmed and edited in Scorsese's inimitable style of montages and flashbacks, The Departed sets a relentless pace. Often though, the film moves a bit too quickly for its own good. The intercutting between stories is often too hectic, jarring the audience when we just want to absorb the scene. There's a scene with Mr. French and Costello wistfully talking about their wives, in the middle of which we are treated to a quick flashback of Mr. French garrotting his wife. The shot is short but undeniably ugly, not to mention unnecessary to the story besides further illustrating that French is an evil sonofabitch. The story jumps around so much that certain key plot points become muddled. It's unclear whether the couple that Costello and French execute in the beginning is Carstigan's mob-connected uncle (who was also a gangster, thus giving him his in to the crime family) or just some random people they blow away for fun. Hell, the first time I saw the movie I thought it was the shopkeeper Costello shakes down at the beginning and his daughter.

Scorsese obviously embraces his position as one of the premier craftsmen of cinematic violence. Throughout The Departed, the camera never flinches from the bloodletting, but the violence starts to spiral out of control as the movie progresses. One major character is dispatched with all the dignity of a Wile E. Coyote splat and by the end of the film, the whole thing turns into a bonanza of spurting headwounds that it becomes inappropriately comical. The ending is also a point of contrition to most viewers. What should have been left depressingly open (as I've read it was in Infernal Affairs) is wrapped up in much too pat fashion. Oh, and the final shot of the "rat" crawling across a railing, though thematically consistent with the story, comes off with the subtley of a fart joke.

I'm sure all my bitching leaves the impression that I disliked the film, but I actually did enjoy it. It's just that the movie's flaws stand so glaringly against what is otherwise a tense cinematic experience. Though The Departed is considered a throwback to Scorsese's crime epics Goodfellas and Casino, it shares with them only their subject, not their tone. The Departed is a psychological thriller about deception and lies, modern rather than nostalgic; a film whose plot could only exist in the era of cellphones. It's laced with enough dark wit and humor to keep the proceedings from becoming oppressive, and has a well chosen rock soundtrack to keep the mood plugging along (though from this point on, I'm deducting points whenever Scorsese uses "Gimme Shelter").

Overall, The Departed benefits from Scorsese keeping things entertaining rather than going for "epic" and "deep". We'll see if that reverse psychology will finally earn him his Oscar this Sunday. If it doesn't, who the fuck cares?

See my review of Taxi Driver as well as a new one for Hard Candy at my DVD shelf.


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The DVD Shelf--The Departed (2006) | 65 comments (51 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
finally (none / 0) (#5)
by l1ttledrummerb0y2 on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:13:11 AM EST

something nice to read on k5....i'll vote for it when it goes up

Good stuff. Nice job \\ (none / 0) (#6)
by tweet on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:30:24 AM EST

Not everything in black and white makes sense.

lol what? whose opinion did you steal? (2.00 / 3) (#7)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 09:08:26 AM EST

First you say you havn't seen internal affairs, then you say her character should have been split into two characters as it was in internal affairs. Which, not surprisingly, is I think what Andy Lau said in his citique of the departed. poser.

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I don't know... (none / 1) (#8)
by PhillipW on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 09:11:03 AM EST

How is it that a (judging from the review here) clumsy remake of a foreign film get nominated for Best Film when the original, which is quite good, didn't even get nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in it's year? It seems "the academy" is made up mostly of hacks who vote for buzz rather than quality. And I thought they were supposed to know a thing or two about film...

Also, if I were Scorcese, I'm not sure I'd even want this to be the film I got an Oscar for. Wouldn't he rather win for something that, oh I don't know, he came up with on my own?

lol don't get me wrong i loved IA and hk cinema (none / 1) (#11)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 09:40:44 AM EST

but the day an hk film gets nominated for best foreign language film at the oscars is the day i lose all faith in the oscars.  HK cinema is not world class cinema..  not saying it's not good, but the industry as it exists today cannot create films of world class quality.

But if you ask me that's a good thing. It's allowed HK cinema to evolve to its own standards and culture, which makes it unique and refreshing.

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[ Parent ]

You misunderstand (none / 0) (#12)
by PhillipW on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:17:26 AM EST

My point isn't that HK gangster films should be nominated for Oscars(though I also am a fan of them). My point is that it's absurd that inferior versions of the same movies should be nominated for Best Picture.

Personally, I can't lose faith in the Oscars, as I have none.

[ Parent ]
well having an obscure-ish but superior (none / 1) (#14)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:21:10 AM EST

inspiration isn't a valid grounds to dismiss a film's merit. I'd much rather see the departed dismissed on grounds of poor acting, directing, editing, script etc...

Being as it, infact, is pretty good in these aspects, i don't see what the problem is...

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[ Parent ]

The problem (none / 0) (#15)
by PhillipW on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:31:24 AM EST

The problem is consistency. If The Departed is good enough to be nominated and we agree that Infernal Affairs was better, then why did Infernal Affairs not get a nomination? It seems absurd that the inferior of the 2 films gets a nomination and then we say we would lose faith in the Oscars f the superior version gets nominated.

[ Parent ]
but that's an artificial inconsistency (none / 1) (#16)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:46:09 AM EST

IA was very well honored where it was appropriate to honor it. In HK it was a smashing success at both the box office and award ceremonies.  Again, to see it be nominated for "Best Foreign Language" film at the oscars would be laughable. Not just because of the "me too!" hype factor such an action would look like.  But it's just not a good fit for that category.  I could see it getting a nod for best script maybe, but that category has historicalyl been reserved for english scripts. Best Foreign Language film is kind of a retarded category anyway.  It would be better to just let regions honor their own films and use international venues like Cannes to honor the world's films.

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[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#36)
by PhillipW on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:49:26 AM EST

to see it be nominated for "Best Foreign Language" film at the oscars would be laughable ... it's just not a good fit for that category.

Why not? It's a Foreign Language film, isn't it?

[ Parent ]
already covered this (none / 1) (#38)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 10:55:56 AM EST

IA is a fine example of the HK film industry at it's best..  but it just isn't a world class film. Could you really see it going head to head with the likes of "the downfall" which might have been the same year?!  come on...

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[ Parent ]
Yes, because only films containing pathos (none / 0) (#60)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Mar 03, 2007 at 03:44:48 PM EST

should ever get any awards.


MMM: the thinking man's idiot
- zombie twisted sandshoe

[ Parent ]
HK cinema not world class ?! (none / 0) (#48)
by linca on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 09:44:04 AM EST

Wong Kar Wai, Tsui Hark ain't world class?

Although Tsui Hark's movies are of variable quality, some are world class...

Wong Kar Wai, although too artsy for many, is pretty good, too.

[ Parent ]

ok let me clear things up (none / 1) (#50)
by balsamic vinigga on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 05:59:21 PM EST

in saying that the Hong Kong film industry does not produce world class films does not mean that any movie made in HK is automatically not world class.  Just like how not every film made in America isn't a slice of Hollywood pop culture the same can be said for some filmmakers in HK.

Wong Kar Wai does not produce typical HK film industry films... and i'm curious how it is he works within or outside of the industry because his films are so distinguished he's a special case.

However Internal Affairs, OTOH, is typical HK industry film..  an outsanding example of it, but very much a typical HK film industry style film.

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[ Parent ]

Cannot create films of world class quality (none / 0) (#49)
by Scrymarch on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 10:12:56 AM EST

Sir, I respectfully suggest you revisit Kung Fu Mahjong 3: The Final Duel.

[ Parent ]
Foreign Film Oscars are weird (none / 0) (#57)
by Jah-Wren Ryel on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 04:40:00 PM EST

The process for foreign films to make it to Oscar consideration is different from all the other categories.  It requires that an independent (from the rest of the academy awards) national selection committee in each country submit the film for that country.  Lots and lots of local politics, local money and local shenanigans come into play when selecting a submission.  In 2002, HK submitted "The Touch" which was immediately disqualified because most dialog was in English.

So, while the Oscars are just a big promotional event for the film industry and not about "real" art, the fact that Infernal Affairs was not nominated can not be held against The Departed because the groups of people making the decisions to nominate are entirely distinct, almost literally on opposite sides of the planet.

FWIW, I have seen both - and also the two sequels to Infernal Affairs which The Departed sort of wraps all up into one movie and while I could admire The Departed for some of the superior artistic qualities, I did not like it story-wise because both I already knew the plotline and some deviations that Scorsese took seemed to make the parts that he kept less meaningful or less coherent.  However, I suspect these movies will be of the type that most people will favor the version they see first.

[ Parent ]

The film was decent, but not spectacular (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by Psychology Sucks on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 09:19:49 AM EST

I don't understand all of the Oscar buzz about it.  It didn't deserve to be nominated, even though it was a decent movie.

Nice article, +1 SP.

you columns name is obsolete (1.33 / 3) (#13)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:17:29 AM EST

you gonna rename it or is it still gonna be called psycho dav's dvd shelf when dvd's are a dead as vinyl and films are downloaded dircetly into our brains?

Any film snob worth his weight in ticket stubs netflixes hddvds and/or bluray discs.

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sure they do. (none / 0) (#24)
by the spins on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:27:00 PM EST

except for the 99% of the population that doesn't have hardware capable of playing that media. honestly, they don't look that different.

( )

[ Parent ]

they look quite a bit different on a good hdtv (none / 1) (#25)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:55:01 PM EST

dvds look good, but 1080p looks fucking amazing.

and i said "a film snob worth his weight in ticket stubs" which is that other 1%

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

ya dude i hear ya (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by the spins on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:58:33 PM EST

citizen kane in HD is going to be fucking hot.

( )

[ Parent ]

Jack (none / 1) (#18)
by loteck on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:43:59 PM EST

I don't understand how tough everyone is on Jack's part in this. I can see a lot of people playing a lot of different characters in this film, but it was Jack and Wahlberg that owned their roles, if you replace either of them with other people we might be sitting here talking about a very different movie.
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich

PFFFT (none / 0) (#22)
by loteck on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 04:50:07 PM EST

getting a little big for our britches, are we? author ignores editorial comments that identify mistakes in article. I'm sure this is destined for the FP but you've lost my vote.
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich

Actually, your right... (none / 0) (#44)
by Psycho Dave on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 05:52:55 PM EST

I feel like a schmuck now for missing the Carstigan/Costigan thing. My -1 from you was well deserved.

[ Parent ]
its an automatic +1fp for many (none / 0) (#45)
by loteck on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:26:00 PM EST

but homie dont play that. keep up the quality and ill keep dishing out the funny pliers, the fisting prostitutes, the furtive poon.

"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich

[ Parent ]

I think the couple (none / 1) (#23)
by phayd on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:17:16 PM EST

was just put in to "flesh out" Costello, show that he's a pretty bad dude.

Horrible remake of so-so foreign film. $ (none / 0) (#26)
by Scott Robinson on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:50:46 PM EST

The Sullivan-Costello end scene (none / 0) (#32)
by fluxrad on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 02:22:08 AM EST

I'm still not sure I get the dynamic working in that scene. Costello tries to reason with Sullivan, and I thought he did a fair job of it (I'm trying to to give away too much here). I'm still at a loss to figure out why Damon's character acted the way he did there.

Oddly enough though, I thought that was one of the better aspects of this film. Scorsese does well not hitting the audience over the head with obvious plot points or character motivations. He lets you deduce Carstigan's reasons for wanting revenge, and he plays subtly with each character's motivations. That made it truly one of the year's best movies.

I'm having a hard time deciding between this and Little Miss Sunshine for my personal best picture of 2007.

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
I enjoyed The Departed. (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by creature on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 05:00:31 AM EST

Unfortunately, it was marred slightly for me by the fact that I find it really hard to tell Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio apart. I spent the first 10 minutes trying to figure out what the fuck was going on before I cottoned on that they were two different people.

IGTT an 8/10 (1.50 / 2) (#39)
by balsamic vinigga on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:00:29 AM EST

i liked how you subtly threw a complaint typically reserved for Internal Affairs' Tony Leung and Andy Lau (because 'all look same') at the departed as though the difference between damon and dicap ain't night and day.

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[ Parent ]
Thank you, thank you. (none / 0) (#40)
by creature on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 12:48:45 PM EST

But I haven't seen the original, and I really do have trouble telling them apart. I certainly did in this film.

[ Parent ]
I for one (2.40 / 5) (#34)
by Kurosawa Nagaya on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 06:51:31 AM EST

Would like to see him win, walk up on stage, flip the middle finger, walk offstage.

The Oscars are a fucking joke, crash was a piece of shit.

I wanted my money back even though I stole it.

The reason for this is simple: we're all full of shit ~ circletimessquare

two things (none / 1) (#35)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:18:50 AM EST

  1. wahlberg deserves the oscar. he was my favorite in this entire movie. that fucking hot headed mile a minute trash talk was genius. and i don't know if anyone else could have pulled it off and remained as genuine to the character. as far as i am concerned, his performance he pwn3d nicholson, damon, and dicaprio. too bad he's not considered among the top tier of "serious" actors. he deserves to be

  2. the movie was classic fucking excellent scorsese... until that very last scene with the rat. that was so fucking lame. but no big deal, it's like having a sumtuous meal at a great restaurant and then walking through a haze of asshole smokers on the sidewalk on the way out the front door on the end: no big deal, just something to put a sneer on your face after an hour and a half of smiles

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Wahlberg was well cast (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by p3d0 on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 01:50:37 AM EST

He's not a great actor.  He was well chosen for this part.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Art versus Commerce (none / 0) (#37)
by redelm on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 10:04:57 AM EST

Without getting into the possible conflicts of personality, in Hollywood there is always tension between art and the commercial side of the business. Vision versus focus groups. It really cannot be otherwise given the sums of money involved and the desire for commercial success. It might make one pine for the older patronage system, but I'm not sure that was really better.

Academy voters are at least subconsciously influenced by commerce. It cannot be avoided. Since it cannot be stated, other rationalizations must be given.

one thing (none / 0) (#42)
by bobthejanitor on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 05:35:16 PM EST

DiCaprio's character is actually named Costigan, not Carstigan.  Other than that, good article.

Crash (none / 1) (#43)
by kromagg on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 05:46:52 PM EST

While I agree the oscars aren't solely about cinematic merit, I actually liked Crash. I keep seeing people dissing it, mostly people who wanted Brokeback Mountain to win, but the film certainly had a lot of fans. I posit that in the current hollywood climate both movies had just as much chance to win politically speaking.

Pales compared to the original. (none / 0) (#46)
by V on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 12:55:07 AM EST

I have never seen a director do so little with so much money.

Even cts would have done a better movie with the same budget. Just stay close to the source, what it isn't broke don't fixed and for fucks sake, if you absolutely have to give your "vision" to a movie make sure it isn't a crappy vision. (Are you listening Lucas, Washopswhaever, et al?)

This guy killed the character development present in the original, the moral struggle that was present in the original and more important he made the movie unfun.

You can whine all you want with the guy not having an oscar, that only crappy movies get an oscar but if this time he wins (and by your logic he should, since this is a crappy movie) I'm sure you'll cream your pants and keep sucking snobbish director cock.

What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens

What a wanker.... (none / 1) (#52)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 07:26:16 PM EST

Whenever a North american Director remakes a forign picture all the illiterate reatrds at the comic shop go ape kaka. Nonetheless, foriegn films usually suck because they try too much on a limited budget, even if the story is good.


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

D00d (none / 1) (#53)
by V on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 07:42:37 PM EST

It's not my fault the north american directors are crappy remakers. Just throwing more money will not improve if you have no fucking clue what made a movie great.


What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

for my money (none / 1) (#51)
by /dev/trash on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 07:00:37 PM EST

I loved GoodFellas and not much else Scorese has done.

I loved Full Metal Jacket but nothing else Kubrick did.  


Updated 02/20/2004
New Site

The original isn't as good (none / 0) (#54)
by Andrevan on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 02:46:48 PM EST

I for one have seen Infernal Affairs and it's not nearly as good as Scorsese's version. The characters have a lot less personality and motivation. It probably has something to do with the length - Infernal Affairs clocks in at 101 minutes, whereas The Departed adds 50 minutes to that. The extra time allows Scorsese to develop the characters, add more of a backstory, and so on. Scorsese's cast is also influenced by but vastly superior to Andy Leung's, who actually cast himself as one of the main characters. I also think the lighting and cinematography is much cleaner in the Hollywood version, though I suppose that has to do with the budget.

Aside from your ignorance of the original, this sentence is the other glaring flaw with your review: "It seems that Sullivan is willing to risk his career and reputation all because Costello bought him groceries once when he was a kid." For someone who complains about the lack of subtlety, you sure missed the boat on that one. Costello is like a father figure to Sullivan because of events that occur off-screen after the grocery scene but before Sullivan grows up. Lots of time passes, I thought that was obvious.

Oops (none / 0) (#55)
by Andrevan on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 02:47:49 PM EST

Sorry, his name is Andy Lau, not Andy Leung.

[ Parent ]
I still didn't feel the relationship. (none / 0) (#56)
by Psycho Dave on Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 04:15:51 PM EST

It's one thing to let us fill in the blanks, but the audience also needs a little bit of guidance. I get that Costello was a father figure to Sullivan, but the relationship feels undeveloped. First, we see him buying groceries. The next, he's schooling them about "when there's a gun in your face, what's the difference?" in his garage. What did the young Sullivan do for Costello when he was a child? How was he able to fool everyone that he was a prodigy in the police department while giving his ultimate loyalty to Costello?

In contrast, Costigan was developed much better, and without the use of flashbacks back to childhood. His motivations were neatly summed up in his first scene (comes from a family of criminals, wants to be the first to fly straight etc.) Not everything is spelled out, but we understand his motivations.

The audience doesn't need everything spelled out to them, but since the double identity theme is so important to the story, I feel we shouldn't have to figure it all out ourselves.

[ Parent ]

You're clueless (none / 0) (#59)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Mar 03, 2007 at 03:38:51 PM EST

Scorsese's version is suffering from the same Hollywood bloat that has been happening even before Titanic's titanic 3-hour running time. Some idiot director somehow had this idea that longer is better, while the opposite is true 99% of the time when it comes to movies. I've yet to see a 120+ minute movie that couldn't be made better by leaving the extra minutes on the cutting room floor. This holds doubly true for "director's cuts."

And it holds triple for The Departed. The characters develop? Their motivations are pushed to the audience instead of being subtly hinted at as in the original. And don't get me started how lazy writing always resorts to flashbacks and backstory to "drive" the story - to a halt.

Cinematography is, indeed, "cleaner" in the Hollywood version. But the gritty - excuse me for using that word - scenery of IA lends itself better to the story than the slick camerawork of the Scorsese version.

And most importantly, you fail to mention the strongest points of the original. The editing is out of this world, pacing is perfect and there's no slack in the movie due to its relative terseness. All this culminates in the exchange scene with the cell phones and cars. The Hollywood version is a total throwaway which doesn't build any suspense. The HK puts you on the edge of your seat - I hadn't been so hot and bothered in the movies since seeing Debbie Does Dallas.

Then there's the ridiculous hollywoodizations of the single love interest and the need to try to wring a somewhat upbeat ending from a tragedy.

And thou shalt not speak ill of Andy Lau.

MMM: the thinking man's idiot
- zombie twisted sandshoe

[ Parent ]
nice article (none / 0) (#58)
by urbanforces on Sat Mar 03, 2007 at 01:31:41 AM EST

when referring to kevin costner, it's always helpful to mention waterworld too. not sure whether he directed it, but it's a good example of his elite crapness. as far as i'm concerned, dances with wolves was a bore. a pretentious remake of "little big man" but without the humour or the talent. costner's sole moment of magic must surely be "no way out" - great movie with a great uber-m.night twist.

I think Waterworld is underrated... (none / 0) (#61)
by Psycho Dave on Sun Mar 04, 2007 at 03:06:25 AM EST

Keep in mind, it's been over a decade since I've seen it, but I remember it being fun despite all the negative buzz it attained.

Mind you, I also loved Dances With Wolves when it first came out, but I was thirteen at the time. Not a bad movie, but doesn't hold the test of time quite like Goodfellas.

[ Parent ]

Then there's the postman (none / 0) (#62)
by kromagg on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 06:15:51 PM EST

The book is better, but the movie is the kind of stuff you'll watch after having a few beers.

[ Parent ]
Fun fun flick--oscarworthy? Maybe not...but.. (none / 0) (#63)
by kootaphor on Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 02:25:03 PM EST

They HAD to give it to him. Not that I'm a huge fan of the Oscars (No Children of Men Noms? Getouttaheah)--but they are pretty good about paying up Susan Lucci style eventually.  

Cases in point, Denzel and Crowe, whatever year that was. Crowe deserved it for A Beautiful Mind (but got it for Gladiator)-- but Denzel actually got it that year for Training Day (though he deserved it for Malcolm X).


Gladiator was before Beautiful Mind. (none / 0) (#64)
by Psycho Dave on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 05:21:41 AM EST

Russel Crowe won the award before being in Beautiful Mind. It came out the year after Gladiator. Denzel was good in Training Day, but yes, he should have won it for Malcolm X. He owned that role.

That year was necessary. Now that Hollywood has sufficiently sucked its own dick about how enlightened they are by letting black actors and actresses win major acting awards regularly, it seems to be focusing on the quality of the performance. Jamie Foxx was also quite good in Ray and deserved his Oscar as did Forest Whitaker this year. That's good because they'll be recognized for their best work instead of always having to play catch up.

[ Parent ]

The best part of this movie (none / 0) (#65)
by Skeletor9000 on Thu May 03, 2007 at 03:55:11 AM EST

...wasn't part of the movie. It was the parody of SNL's "Dear Sister" skit. The final scenes were tailor-made for that sort of tomfoolery.

The DVD Shelf--The Departed (2006) | 65 comments (51 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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